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Thread: Frustrated in Arkansas

  1. #1
    Super Member #1piecemaker's Avatar
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    Frustrated in Arkansas

    I have been fighting a losing battle for days now trying to get my tension in the right sync on my longarm machine. This should not be so difficult. I've always been able to solve the problem with my domestic machines right? Well, so many different things can effect the long arm. Batting, thread, different kinds and differnent colors all require different settings. Does anyone have the perfect solution to all of this. Do any of you use a TOWA gauge? I am certainly considering buying one. I'm going crazy here. I even changed the backing fabric on my machine thinking the weave might be too close. I've changed my needles and the size of my needles. Help!!!! I've called the dealer and we thought it was working okay but when I took the practice quilt off and put on another one.......... a whole set of new problems. Anybody got any advice? I am about an inch shy of throwing in the towel!! I need some reinforcements. I'm getting tiny looptys on the bottom when I stitch backwards. Goes fine forward but backwards is when it goes crazy.
    Be the best that you can be at everything you do.
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  2. #2
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    I don't have any answers for you, but you sure have my sympathy. I have watched my sister struggle with tension problems on her long arm for years. She will think it is all fixed and then it will just crop up again.

    I suspect some long arm owners here can help though. My fingers are crossed for you...surely your problems are about over.

    Dina

  3. #3
    Senior Member c1bendt's Avatar
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    I feel your pain, I have a quilt on my frame right now that has been there for months because it has a lot of issues that I can't adjust out. What started out as a beautiful quilt top is now a rag as far as I am concerned.
    Cindy

  4. #4
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I hardly ever have any tension issues from quilt to quilt, so I don't think this is normal. Perhaps your tension spring needs to be replaced? If it's worn out, nothing will help but to replace it.

  5. #5
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I'm sure someone can help you. At least you know it's not right and trying to find a solution.
    The LAs in my guild are always complaining about tension/thread issues. Rarely do I see any of their work that doesn't have thread bumps, loops, or too long a stitch, in with the good stitches. I have suggested they take a machine quilting class for a long arm machine but get the oh those are too expensive and I'll have to travel an hour away. So stop complaining about it then. It seems they are so happy that most of the stitches look great that a few oops are okay. I let them quilt my utility quilts.
    Got fabric?

  6. #6
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Like Dunster, I rarely have issues but we both have Innova's. Did you go to Jamie Wallen's youtube video posted last time you sent out a plea for help on this?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM

    Loops on the bottom almost always mean your top tension is way too loose (or bobbin way too tight) Have you been using cotton thread? You may have a wad of lint lodged in the bobbin tension spring. And that could happen at any time during the quilting process and throw your tension out of whack.

    If I were you I would completely get off all cotton threads to eliminate the lint issue. Switch to polyesters, at least until you are confident in all aspects of your machine.

    Maybe you would benefit by trying magnaglide bobbins from Filtec. http://www.bobbincentral.com/

    They help alleviate backlash issues which may be what is happening when you change directions. However, it shouldn't be happening every stitch in one direction and not the other, that makes no sense. I am sorry you are having so many issues.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I second the recommendation to watch Jamie Wallen's Youtube video. Once I started using Glide thread, I haven't tried anything else simply because I love the look and it never gives me any problems.

  8. #8
    Senior Member omaluvs2quilt's Avatar
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    I third the comments on the video and the Glide thread and magna bobbins. Although I struggled with thread at first, "bobbincentral" was super helpful and even sent me some of the magna bobbins to try out! I did have to use a thread net on the glide thread, but now she sews like a dream!

  9. #9
    Super Member sweetpea's Avatar
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    Are you keeping you speed the same both way's? I know that I move to slow I can get loops.
    Scrapy quilts have more love in them.

  10. #10
    Super Member #1piecemaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by omaluvs2quilt View Post
    I third the comments on the video and the Glide thread and magna bobbins. Although I struggled with thread at first, "bobbincentral" was super helpful and even sent me some of the magna bobbins to try out! I did have to use a thread net on the glide thread, but now she sews like a dream!
    I don't have the magna bobbins so that tute didn't really work for me. I tried and tried it. bobbin wouldn't stay in and didn't turn until I put it on its edge. I just bought a bunch of bobbins too. I'm still working on it. I think I'm almost there!!!!
    Be the best that you can be at everything you do.
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  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by #1piecemaker View Post
    I don't have the magna bobbins so that tute didn't really work for me. I tried and tried it. bobbin wouldn't stay in and didn't turn until I put it on its edge. I just bought a bunch of bobbins too. I'm still working on it. I think I'm almost there!!!!
    Not sure I understand. Do you mean the Jamie Wallen video? Because it doesn't use magna bobbins. When I tested my bobbin case after watching the video, I could *not* get it as loose as he gets his; the screw in the bobbin case fell out first! Also, I think when I tested I started with the bobbin case in my hand with the bobbin facing up; that way the bobbin does not have a chance to fall out during testing. The bobbin case does need to stand on end while doing the test. It's been awhile since I have watched the video (haven't needed it since I adjusted with the video), so maybe I am missing something.

    I love the Glide magna bobbins too, but I also have no problem winding my own bobbins with Glide and using them (except I had to rig a better way to feed the thread to my bobbin winder).

    My rig (Voyager 17) does not have a stitch regulator, and I have noticed that if I vary my speed the tension is not as good on large stitches; however, it's just a matter of me regulating my speed to be more constant, which is not a big issue for me.

    I have read that several people have needed to replace their upper tension spring, which is not a huge problem but does require taking apart the upper tension in order to replace the spring. It's that wire spring that the thread goes through after the tension discs. The wire can lose its "spring" (no pun intended!) with age and use.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c1bendt View Post
    I feel your pain, I have a quilt on my frame right now that has been there for months because it has a lot of issues that I can't adjust out. What started out as a beautiful quilt top is now a rag as far as I am concerned.
    What setup do you have? What has helped me a *lot* is joining a group for my particular setup. Members who have encountered and solved problems have given very helpful tips.

  13. #13
    Power Poster ube quilting's Avatar
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    Every once in a while I do a reset on my Nolting. There is a guide to follow that resets the timing.

    Also is the needle in straight? and deep enough? Double check this.

    I really feel your pain. There is no absolute solution, just trial & error. In my case it is mostly error.
    peace
    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

  14. #14
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    I don't have a LA but... my suggestion is also to keep a notebook/binder with list of thread types and batting types and fabric types and how you have adjusted tension for each item. Good reference for ending some frustration.

    Machines confuse me a lot. When I use my walking foot on my DSM, I don't change the tension but when I FMQ on the same quilt, the tension needs significant adjustment. Go figure.

    Also, take a break from it before you become too frustrated. Good luck

  15. #15
    Senior Member AudreyB's Avatar
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    I feel your pain. I have had tension problems on my longarm and it is very frustrating. Once I started using the TOWA my problems almost disappeared. I highly recommend using one. I wind my bobbin as tightly as possible and set the tension at 200 (other machines may want a different number, but that is what works for me). I then adjust the top tension until I get a good stitch. The TOWA saved my sanity.
    AudreyB
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    What is a TOWA?

  17. #17
    Power Poster feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy l View Post
    What is a TOWA?
    It is a fairly expensive guage that gives you a numerical reading for what your tension is. They make them for bobbins and for top tension. Primarily used in LA machines

    http://www.superiorthreads.com/shop/...tension-gauge/

  18. #18
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I have the towa but have not used it much.

  19. #19
    Super Member #1piecemaker's Avatar
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    My machine just does not like cotton thread. She is a prissy. She only likes the Glide. I put some on, made a couple of minor adjustments and she is quilting like a dream. Go figure! My dealer says she will buy all of my cotton thread back because that is what her machine likes. I was sure glad about that. No need to have it here if I can't use it. Now, what to do with some of my other "I don't ever use things". Thank you all for all the suggestions. I watched the videos and they didn't really help me cause I don't have the magna bobbins. Couldn't keep my bobbin in long enough to do the test. I guess what works for one doesn't always work for the other. I would have to buy a tempermental machine.
    Be the best that you can be at everything you do.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    On occasion I battled the tension on my LA and it all stopped after I watched the video called TNT (threads, needles, and tension) by Handi Quilter. You can find it on their web page or on the YouTube. It became my mantra, and my go to guide. Good luck!

  21. #21
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by #1piecemaker View Post
    My machine just does not like cotton thread. She is a prissy. She only likes the Glide. I put some on, made a couple of minor adjustments and she is quilting like a dream. Go figure! My dealer says she will buy all of my cotton thread back because that is what her machine likes. I was sure glad about that. No need to have it here if I can't use it. Now, what to do with some of my other "I don't ever use things". Thank you all for all the suggestions. I watched the videos and they didn't really help me cause I don't have the magna bobbins. Couldn't keep my bobbin in long enough to do the test. I guess what works for one doesn't always work for the other. I would have to buy a tempermental machine.
    I am so glad it is working for you now!!

    Dina

  22. #22
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    Glad it is working but I wouldn't like it if I couldn't use cotton thread. I know the other is fine but somestimes a quilt really needs a cotton or the color I want (especially variagated) is only available in cotton.

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    I am glad you found thread that she likes! I sympathized yesterday but don't have a LA so I didn't want to post if I couldn't give helpful advice.

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    Leesa, I don't know if this will work for your LA but I have had to take a length of yarn and run it back and forth to clean out the track for my thread. My DN had a repair shop for years and this is what he did to reset the tension so it would calabrate properly. He says the lint build up can cause unadjustable tension problems. It may not take care of your tension but it is a cheap try.

  25. #25
    Super Member Cindy60545's Avatar
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    I agree with the rest of the posters, Jamie Wallen's video is what turned my tension issues around for my Queen Quilter (Tin Lizzie). The video is not for pre-wound bobbins, but ones that you wind yourself & is not specific to any one machine. I did switch over to Glide thread & the magna-glide prewounds & my tension issues disappeared. Can't beat the price either. The TNT video is great too. Glad you solved the issue. Sometimes our machines just decide to be finicky sometimes & straighten themselves out. Go figure!!

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